The Counter Offer: Should You Stay or Should You Go?

Last week on the amge+ blog we discussed what employers should know about counter offers, now let’s take a look at counter offers from another perspective. If you’re planning to resign from your current position, it’s a good idea to prepare for the possibility of receiving a counter offer. In order to convince you to stay, your current employer may offer higher compensation, a change in responsibilities, or even the possibility of structural changes within the company. Whether or not it’s a good idea to take the counter offer depends on several factors. 

If compensation is your top reason for looking elsewhere, it might be worth it to accept your employer’s counter offer. However, you might wonder why it took a formal resignation for the company to pay you what you’re worth. More on that later. If there are other reasons that prompted you to get back on the job market, those issues might not be addressed if you agree to stay on. As mentioned in last week's article, a study out of the UK shows that more than 60 per cent of those who accept counter offers end up leaving their job within six months anyway. It’s also likely that the company will not forget that you tried to leave - you might be considered a fidelity risk, and if word gets out, you might face some resentment from others in the company.

If you do take a counter offer, keep in mind that you will be watched closely for quite some time after you decide to stay. A trusting relationship with company leadership and your direct reports will go a long way in helping you overcome this stigma, so ask yourself how strong your relationships are at your current company. It’s also important to remember that accepting a counter offer will damage your relationship with potential employers and recruiters. The world of business is smaller than you might think and it's likely that you will burn bridges with the executives whom you turn down in order to accept the counter offer.

At amge+, we sometimes encounter job seekers who have not yet tried to fix problems at their current roles. Before getting yourself back on the job market, the first step you should take is to have a thoughtful conversation with management in your current role. Perhaps you feel it is time for a raise; have you officially asked for one? If you feel your role has plateaued, have you brainstormed ways in which you can better contribute to your organisation, and then discussed these ideas with your management team? You may be pleasantly surprised at the results you achieve by speaking to your organisation about changes in responsibility, flexibility, or salary. 

Before handing in your resignation, spend some time thinking about what your new job will offer rather than what your current employer could do to make you stay. If the new job is offering more travel (or less, depending on your priorities), project variety, or flexible working hours, weigh those perks against the pros and cons of your current job. Then, ask yourself which organisation will be best for your overall career. Figure out where exactly your walking-away point is - if you know this before going into negotiations with you current employer, you’ll be able to evaluate a counter offer rationally rather than emotionally. Should you decide to decline a counter offer, you should make it clear that you are not hoping for yet another counter offer, so that you can depart amicably and respectfully.

If your resignation is met with a counter offer, remember why you decided to seek new opportunities, and carefully consider what it would take to convince you to stay and make it work.